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How does Bill Naughton create andsustain a sense of conflict in the play 'Spring and Portwine'.

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Introduction

How does Bill Naughton create and sustain a sense of conflict in the play 'Spring and Portwine'. The play 'Spring and Portwine' revolves around the underlying conflicts that exist within a working class family from Lancashire in the 1960s. The whole play centres on an argument about one of the daughter's refusal to eat herring that is always served on a Friday evening. The reactions of all members of the family to this insignificant incident bring all their problems and dissatisfaction to a head. At the end of the play, the family feud has reached a climax but the disintegration of the family is narrowly avoided. It is interesting that this is mainly due to the strong character of the father, Rafe, and it was that strong character who had created much of the conflict in the first place. The play is concentrated in two acts, which show the events of four days within a single household. The Cromptons are a working class family living in a small semi detached house in the suburbs of Bolton. Immediately, from the beginning of the play, you can feel that tension within the family is inevitable because of the claustrophobic nature of the set. ...read more.

Middle

Full of Dutch courage, Hilda refuses to eat them. Rafe is adamant that she eats them, "what sort of state do you think the world would be in if you left everybody to their taste?" as he thinks that everybody should have the same, as his kitchen is not a cafeteria. The difference between the attitudes of the generations, young and old, is clearly shown here with Rafe sticking to his old fashioned, regimented ways. This tiny disagreement escalates into a family feud and nearly destroys the Crompton family. Rafe feels that this minor incident is hugely important in determining whose standards will prevail in his home, his children's or his. If his children win on this issue his authority will diminish. "If your children once beat you - you're licked for good." Hilda, as stubborn as her father, refuses to eat the herring. Rafe acknowledges her strong self willed nature when he says, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." He sets a rule that, until she eats one herring she cannot eat anything else. Bill Naughton manages to sustain the sense of conflict between Hilda and her father by inflicting this punishment on her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Here Rafe's character changes. Instead of lashing out with punishments and abuse, he is calm and loving. He offers to comfort Daisy and love her. "Don't you realise I love you for all your faults? I wouldn't want to change you for anything............ I haven't made you go in fear of me, have I lass?" The tension starts to be released at this point when we see a different and completely unexpected side of Rafe's character. From Rafe's actions in the first scene many of the audience would have expected him to be furious when he found out, as he appeared to be a domineering, bullying father. He sums it up towards the end by saying, "you must forgive me. I drove you to it. I tried to do good by force and force seems to blind a man." The destruction of the family is prevented as Rafe shows his true heart and the family agree never to lie and keep secrets from each other again. Bill Naughton used the build up over the four days to this climax of the incident with the coat. Instead of a tragedy, the play has a happy ending with the family having resolved all their issues with the new confidence that they will remain a strong family unit. CHRISTIAN WIMSHURST ...read more.

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